Pixel Scroll 3/3/16 What’s Scroll Got To Do, Got To Do With It?

(1) CANCER SMACKDOWN IN PROGRESS. Pat Cadigan has a great update — “That’s Right, Cancer, I Said You Better Run ‘Cause There Ain’t Nothin’ For You Here”.

Yes, in case you can’t tell, the level of cancer in my body continues to decline. I did a little math and the current level is 3% of what it was when I started chemotherapy in January 2015. I saw one of the doctors on my consultant’s team, a young Asian doctor that I’ve seen before. He was so genuinely happy for me, I kinda choked up.

This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. I had the bad luck to have my cancer recur in the worst possible form but the good luck to have the drugs work better than anyone expected them to. I’d like to tell you attitude is half the battle. I mean, then I could really pat myself on the back (no pun intended, I swear) and say I kicked cancer’s arse. The truth is, I got lucky; the drugs work. My attitude lets me enjoy it.

I would like to be more profound but at the moment, I’m just kinda dazed. Six months ago, I was terminal, at least as far as anyone knew. Today I’m no longer dying of cancer, I’m living with my technicolor Doc Martens boot on its neck.

You know, I don’t think that will ever get old.

(2) OVER TIME. An interview with Lois McMaster Bujold in the New Zealand Herald.

Gentleman Jole And The Red Queen is precisely to do with what happens when a woman refuses to be constrained by the assumptions of the people who think they know her. Cordelia is 76, in a future society where she can expect to live to 120.

“This, of course, has metaphorical import for our own times, with more people living longer. What should we do with ourselves? Is something genuinely new possible, that isn’t just a variant of things we were doing earlier in life?”

It will not spoil the book if I tell you the answer is that it depends on your perspective; which does indeed change with age.

Bujold, 66, remarks she was once part of a book club discussion of her fantasy novel, The Curse Of Chalion, with a group of junior high students, “where it gradually became apparent that the hero was far more alien to them by being an old man of 35 – practically like their parents! – than by being a demon-ridden medieval fantasy nobleman.”


(4) SCHOLARSHIP ABOUT SPANISH SF. Science Fiction Studies, published three times per year by DePauw University, is looking for contributions to the monographic issue on Spanish SF, to be guest edited by Sara Martín and Fernando Ángel Moreno. (Via Europa SF.)

By ‘Spanish SF’ we mean SF novels and short fiction written specifically in Spain, excluding other Spanish-language areas.

Science Fiction Studies is particularly interested in articles dealing with writers Gabriel Bermúdez Castillo, Rafael Marín, Rodolfo Martínez or Javier Negrete and with SF women writers (excluding Elia Barceló).

All submissions must be in English and conform to SFS submission policies, which includes a rigorous peer-reviewing process.

Abstracts (150-200 words) are due by March 30, complete papers by 1 September (maximum 7000 words).

Please, email your proposals to Sara Martín : Sara[dot]Martin[at]uab[dot]cat

(5) NEW GAME IN TOWN. The “Storium” play-by-post forum has just gone live. A number of fairly-well-known writers and game companies have kicked in worlds, including File 770 regular Ursula Vernon, Seanan McGuire, Chuck Wendig, etc. Chris Meadows has details in “Storium storytelling game launches for public view” at Teleread.

The Kickstarter game worlds include quite a few intriguing settings, including some by fairly well-known authors or game companies. For example, the default universe for the HERO system “Champions” RPG is one of those worlds—so if you have some favorite old characters from a “Champions” setting, why not bring them back to life? Hugo-winning webcomic artist and author Ursula Vernon has a humorous setting called “Weird Fruit” (pictured above), and multiply-Hugo-nominated author Seanan McGuire has a setting called “Chambers of the Sea” in which merfolk take part in Atlantisian politics. Matt Forbeck has adapted his Monster Academy young-adult series into a Storium setting as well.

And that’s only scratching the surface. Well-known gaming or fiction writers such as Tobias Buckell, Robin D. Laws, N.K. Jemisin, J.C. Hutchins, Richard Dansky, Elizabeth Bear, Sam Sykes, Mur Lafferty, Kenneth Hite, Chuck Wendig, Stephen Blackmoore, Jordan Weisman, and Charles Stross have settings either ready or under preparation. Steve Jackson Games and Green Ronin Publications are also readying Storium worlds based on their “In Nomine” and “Mutants & Masterminds” RPG settings, respectively.

(6) YOUR TUMBLR DEEP THOUGHT OF THE DAY. From Weird Deer, this quote by Erin Bow:

“No writing is wasted. Did you know that sourdough from San Francisco is leavened partly by a bacteria called lactobacillus sanfrancisensis? It is native to the soil there, and does not do well elsewhere. But any kitchen can become an ecosystem. If you bake a lot, your kitchen will become a happy home to wild yeasts, and all your bread will taste better. Even a failed loaf is not wasted. Likewise, cheese makers wash the dairy floor with whey. Tomato gardeners compost with rotten tomatoes. No writing is wasted: the words you can’t put in your book can wash the floor, live in the soil, lurk around in the air. They will make the next words better.”

(7) HAPPY ANNIVERSARY. Max Florschutz launched his blog Unusual Things a year ago this week.


So, where to start? How about with the number of views Unusual Things has landed in its first year of operation? A quick look at the site’s stats board and some simple addition says …


Hey, you know what? That’s not bad. Not bad at all. Ten thousand views, while nothing to those with heavy advertising budgets and ten thousand fans, is pretty good for a one-year blog on writing, a subject not a lot of people care about.

Actually, let’s dig into that one a bit more. What’s been the post with the highest number of views, the one that’s caught the most attention?

I’m Not a Fan of Science-Fiction and Fantasy? from May 30th, 2015, with 741 views.

You might remember that post. That was the post where I reacted to a number of statements from the Insular crowd during last year’s Hugo insanity, statements that, well, in line with their given moniker of “Insulars,” was all about how certain “casual” fans needed to be kept out of the Hugos, suggesting that they weren’t “real” fans of Sci-Fi and Fantasy because they hadn’t passed some invisible, societal conscientious litmus test that made them a “real fan.”

(8) CHAINS OF LOVE. There’s everything else, so why wouldn’t there be books where “Science Fiction Romance Goes To Space Prison”? Victoria Scott tells you about several of them at Amazing Stories. Ann Aguirre’s Perdition, for example, gets this valedictory:

OK, I have to warn you that “bleak” is an understatement. This series has some of the darkest stuff I’ve ever read, much more to the horror side than I normally will go (I have nightmare issues, ok?) but I found the characters so fascinating, I was compelled to read on. I was rooting so hard for Dred and Jael to make it –  as a couple, out of Perdition, on to a Happily Ever After – that I was willing to stay with them through all the travails. The grim world of Perdition is well drawn and comprehensively thought out, and learning the many details of the worldbuilding backstory was another good reason to continue reading.

(9) NOT PLAN 8 OR PLAN 10. Before he can discuss Plan 9 From Outer Space, Jay McDowell needs to explain what a Bad Movie is:

A real, honest to goodness, grade Z modern Bad Movie is a movie where the creator, be it due to A) technical ineptitude (Manos: The Hands of Fate); B) budget limitations (pretty much anything cranked out by Roger Corman and/or AIP [American International Pictures]); or C) the creator’s overinflated sense of self (vanity projects like Battlefield Earth, Star Trek V, and Glitter), failed spectacularly and inadvertently, made a movie that has become endearing to the viewer. Simple, run-of-the-mill bad movies are, usually, movies that are just bad and not in a fun way; they’re sub-par or heavy handed with their message or, perhaps worst of all, purposely trying to be a true Bad Movie.

(10) WILL SHE PREORDER? My daughter has mentioned several times how excited she is that the eighth Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Pts. I & II, is on the way. Will I ever get a clue that I’m supposed to buy it for her? 🙂

Directly following the play’s premiere in London, a play script will be released in both print and digital finally, finallyFINALLY giving readers the story of Harry’s life 19 years after he defeated the Dark Lord.

The book will be published by Little Brown Book Company on July 31, 2016, marking Harry’s 36th birthday.

(11) BAEN NEWS. Baen publisher Toni Weisskopf sent readers a message: they’re going to synchronize the release dates of ebooks and paper books.

From the publication month of April 2016 onward, the release dates will be the same (that is, the ebooks will not be available two weeks earlier than the paper books).

We will not be changing the time the Monthly Bundles are initially offered for sale, we will continue to offer eARCs as usual, and all other policies regarding ebook bundles will remain in place. We will not be making the period you can buy Monthly Bundles shorter, but longer.

The April 2016 bundle contains the ebooks that will be available in print on April 5th. The final versions of these ebooks would have been scheduled to go live as ebooks on all retail venues on March 16, 2015, and will now be available in their entirety April 5, 2016. At that point, the Monthly Bundle will become unavailable for sale.

We will continue to publish two newsletters per month to help you keep track of our offerings, one highlighting the print books which will come out two weeks in advance of the release date, the other highlighting ebook and website offerings on (or very close to) the release date itself.


  • Born March 3, 1920 – James “Scotty” Doohan

(13) KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY. Rod Roddenberry is executive producing CBS’ new Star Trek series.

Roddenberry Entertainment President Rod Roddenberry and Chief Operating Officer Trevor Roth are serving as executive producers on the new Star Trek television series.

Other executive producers include Alex Kurtzman, Heather Kadin and Bryan Fuller, who was previously announced as showrunner.

(14) AT LSE. Literary Festival 2016 at the London School of Economics featured a number of discussions about sf/f-related topics.

There’s a podcast of “To Boldly Go: what Star Trek tells us about the world”, with participants Michèle Barrett, Professor of Modern Literary and Cultural Theory at Queen Mary University, London and author, Duncan Barrett, a best-selling author, Barry Buzan, Emeritus Professor of International Relations at the LSE, Steven French, Professor of Philosophy of Science at the University of Leeds, and Bryan Roberts, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method at LSE.

And tweets about several other items have been collected at Storify.


Astronaut Scott Kelly arrived in Houston early this morning where he was reunited with his family after a whirlwind year-long mission in space.

Waiting for Kelly, 52, in Houston were his two daughters and girlfriend, along with his identical twin brother, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, and his sister-in-law, former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

After living for nearly a year aboard the International Space Station, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly is two inches taller than his identical twin brother Mark.

One of the main goals of his groundbreaking mission is to study how well humans can endure — mind, body and spirit — on a long-duration spaceflight.

From his perch 400 kilometers (249 miles) above the earth’s surface, Kelly snapped hundreds of beautifully abstract photographs of our planet’s landforms and waterways. He spotted hurricanes ominously swirling on sapphire-blue oceans. He gazed out at the aurora’s glittering fog. He consistently turned Earth’s lands and waters into an abstract artist’s dream, with shots of beaches, deserts, forests, and everything in between.

(16) GHOSTBUSTERS TRAILER BONUS. Russ discovered this website was apparently hidden in the trailer… http://www.paranormalstudieslab.com/#/

(17) THAT’S BAT-MA’AM, TO YOU. In 1974 Yvonne Craig gave an equal pay pitch to a captive audience…

Will Batgirl save Batman and Robin from the bomb? Or will she stand for her rights and get the same pay as a man? If they say no to equal pay…bombs away! 1974 Public Service Announcement by the U.S. Department of Labor–Wage & Hour Division.


[Thanks to Will R., John King Tarpinian, Steven French, JJ, Robotech_master, and robinareid for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Iphinome.]

128 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/3/16 What’s Scroll Got To Do, Got To Do With It?

  1. @ Zil: Tanya Huff’s written in a few SFF genres, so if you feel it was certain sub-genre conventions, you may want to check out her other work, as she’s worked in various sub-genres (MilSF, dark urban fantasy/horror from before UF was what it is now or at least before it was so widespread and so repetitive, other modern-day fantasy, high fantasy, etc.). She may just be Not For You, but if it was the sub-genre, well, I’ve enjoyed a lot of her stuff, though I notably have yet to read her MilSF or “Quarter” fantasy series.

    @James Davis Nicoll: OMG excellent! I love all the fanart he posted, and the close-up of the patches (which I hadn’t noticed in the video). Yeah, I feel sorry for the wife, but the ending with her did make me grin. Thanks for the link to the blog!

  2. Tanya Huff is one of those authors whose books always sound interesting in principle, but who I find to be boring in practice; both prose skill and characterization just lacking. No matter, when one writer doesn’t appeal, there are dozens more.

  3. The funny thing about Huff’s work is that I’ve loved some of her series, enjoyed others but not felt as compelled to pick them up, and bounced off of others. I loved both the vampire-related series, I enjoyed but drifted away from the Keeper series, I really should have been in love with the Quarters series by all reasonable measures but somehow it never grabbed me, and like many cross-genre authors, I wasn’t hooked enough to follow her over to the sci-fi side.

    That’s happened with a number of other authors for me. I guess it comes down to my reading being far more genre-driven than author-driven.

  4. I wonder if Tastes Differ is frequently a matter of how writer and reader sync up. Most writing is inherently imperfect, but if it’s working for you, the flaws are easily overlooked.

    A non-genre example for me is Joan Didion, whose writing I detest beyond my ability to describe. I spent years talking about her chilliness, preciousness, etc., but the answer turned out to be something intentional on her part. I don’t have the book to hand, but in the first few pages of The Year of Magical Thinking she writes something about using words to hide and deflect.

    Anyway, I find why people like or don’t like things to be at least as interesting as what they do or don’t recommend.

    eta: I bounced off Huff’s Quarter series as well, but really like her vampires and military SF.

  5. @redheadedfemme/Bonnie

    What is that? I’ve never heard of it.

    @Cheryl S.

    I didn’t know about those and now I have new Ann Aguirre books to look forward to. Thank you! My first exposure to her writing was the Sirantha Jax series, which blew me away, but I think the Dred Chronicles are even better.

    Always happy to serve (and grow your TBR piles).

    I also wonder if part of her relative obscurity is due not only to the marginalized characters she writes about, but also to living outside of the US. I wonder the same thing about Tanya Huff and Kelley Armstrong.

    That’s certainly a possibility. The SFF world is still very US-centric.

  6. BTW, I had no idea that “Ellen Connor” was Ann Aguirre and Carrie Lofty either, until I picked up the first book in her post-apocalyptic trilogy in a bookstore, because it looked interesting. At home, I checked the copyright page, saw that “Ellen Connor” was really Ann Aguirre (and Carrie Lofty) and prompty went back to the store the next day to buy the other two books in the trilogy.

  7. @Cheryl S.: You have a point; there is a lot of personal idiosyncrasy to what, for one person, is a fault that is ignorable or not a fault at all, and what for another person irritates them beyond bearing. In part it comes down to things like expectations about characters, phrases that sound clicheed to some people not others, preferred reading rhythms…

    I wonder if “rhythm” is part of why I am having such a hard time reading C. J. Cherryh’s famous novel Cyteen. I never liked her writing much and gave up on it for more than a decade. Now I am trying to get through this book and oy, is it a struggle, even though the story itself is fascinating. There’s a certain gracelessness to the writing, and also very much a sameness, with the dialogue sounding much like the exposition. It just does not draw me through the story, but instead feels like a barrier; lack of flowing rhythm is about as well as I can describe it. I know a lot of other people don’t at all have a problem with Cherryh’s books, and instead find them quite compulsive. So I’m just someone whose personal reading style is a mismatch for this writing style.

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  9. I have had similar experiences with Cyteen. I bought the split into three books edition around the time it first came out, largely because the covers looked so cool. I tried to read it and bounced off hard. Of course, I was approx. 16 at the time, English was my second language and the small dictionary we had at home was woefully inadequate for reading SF. In fact, I remember keeping a long list of English words I found in SFF novels that I carried to the library to look up in the bigger dictionaries there.

    English language books were hard to come by in those pre-Internet times and rare treasures (though in retrospect the only bookshop in town that carried English language books had a very good SFF section – someone clearly knew what he or she was doing there), but I still put Cyteen aside in favour of other books.

    Every couple of years I pick up Cyteen and try again, because maybe I was too young when I tried it or maybe I was not in the right mood. And the results is always the same. I bounce off somewhere within the first fifty pages. Whatever magic that book (or trilogy, since my edition is one) has, it completely eludes me.

    Maybe I should give it another try soon.

  10. @Vasha: I have exactly and precisely the same problem with Cherryh’s prose. There’s a quality of prose that draws you forward into a story, and makes you pick up the book during your spare moments instead of spending your time on other things: Jo Walton calls it “I-want-to-read-it-osity”. For me, Cherryh’s prose has negative I-want-to-read-it-osity. (I’ve read every Hugo-winning novel…except hers.) And I’ve encountered other people with the same reaction. (Ironically, not Jo herself: she adores Cherryh’s writing.)

  11. Count me as another non fan of Cherryh’s writing. Downbelow Station is a book I haven’t been able to finish, due to lack of interest., in spite of several tries. Whatever else I look for in prose, I’m pretty sensitive to the writing and @David Goldfarb describes the problem I have with hers.

  12. I remember trying either Cyteem or Downbelow Station during my teens, and dropping out in about the first 50 pages. I’m giving it another go, and from the reccs here am starting of with Merchanter’s Luck, which had a plurality of being the best starting point for her writing.

    Let’s see how it goes.

  13. re: Cherryh books

    Serpent’s Reach is my favorite of hers…I didn’t care for the Chanur books that much. I also like Cloud’s Rider and Rider at the Gate (yay telepathic fanged horses!), and another one I hardly ever see mentioned, Hammerfall.

  14. Huh. I loved the Chanur books, Downbelow Station, Cyteen, and all the other Alliance/Union books, as well as the quasi-fantasy Paladin. I also liked her earlier books, though not as much – her craft improved, as it should. I haven’t kept up with her later books, though – I had a fancy she had gotten too big to be edited. But perhaps I’m wrong. I should give her later books another chance.

    One of the things I liked was the very mixed main characters, who often had some not very nice traits. Somehow I rooted for them anyway. I’m not sure why I liked that, but I did.

  15. I struggled with Cyteen at first too, but once you get far enough into it to meet young Ari, it turns into a completely different and thoroughly delightful book. (IMO, obviously.) I still don’t like the first part too much, but overall, it’s one of my very favorites of hers.

    But yeah, I don’t generally recommend it as a starting point, even though I love it.

    She does have a lot of messed-up protagonists. Sometimes, you just want to grab ’em and shake ’em and say “get it together and pay attention and stop whining!” But, on the bright side, she doesn’t paint their problems as something good or something to be ignored. They’re obviously intended to be flawed characters. Once you get past thinking “Ghu, I hope the author doesn’t think this sort of behavior is acceptable” (a problem I have with a lot of other people’s books), then her stuff gets a lot more entertaining.

  16. @bonnie I talked in DM with Rob (who did the Mind Meld) that I could have gone more obscure with my Cherryh choices and picked Hammerfall, but in the end went for more well known works by her instead.

    RE: Protagonists who are messed up. Yeah, that is a thing with Cherryh, isn’t it.

  17. Flawed characters are part of her draw though. They’ve lived their scars and been shaped, like a bonsai of pain, by the wounds. That they are not always pleasant or stable individuals, have acquired quirks and tics, makes them more real to me.

    If Midshipman Harrington had spent a month injured in a tumbling out of control mining ship it feels like she’d spend a chapter ‘walking it off’ and go back to being substantially the Honor Harrington she always was. (I say that having enjoyed the early Honor books).

    Cherryh’s characters aren’t like that. Signy Mallory, Bet Yeager, or Paul Dekker aren’t immalleable iron. It brings them to life and makes them more heroic in their accomplishments for it.

  18. You know, as a part-time lurker, it feels really good when something I say actually gets picked up on. I’ve been on sites where newbies’ remarks seem to disappear into the ether. Thanks for being the great community you are, folks.

  19. @jonesnori/Lenore Jones
    The times I’ve noticed you commenting you’ve added to the discussion giving us points to further talk about. It works both ways. 🙂

  20. jonesnori/Lenore Jones: You know, as a part-time lurker, it feels really good when something I say actually gets picked up on. I’ve been on sites where newbies’ remarks seem to disappear into the ether. Thanks for being the great community you are, folks.

    Please don’t diminish yourself. You are hardly a newbie — you’re a regular Filer. I’ve noticed lots of your comments, and they are always thoughtful, often thought-provoking, and courteous even in disagreement. 🙂

  21. JJ, thanks. I guess this is another case of imposter syndrome. I’m prone to it.

    It is a lot easier to comment when you’re caught up. I have completist tendencies, so sometimes it can take me weeks to admit that I’ll never catch up, and move to the latest scroll. After Sasquan I was behind for quite a while.

    ETA: is there any way to see those mouseover items on a mobile device?

  22. jonesnori/Lenore Jones: is there any way to see those mouseover items on a mobile device?

    I don’t know — but I deliberately don’t put anything substantive in them, because I know that not all of the Filers can see them. The one above says “or is that a Filer regular?”.

  23. *waves hi to Lenore*

    Lenore and I were both in the university’s Tolkien Fellowship back in college days.

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